Bioethics Blogs

Three-Parent IVF

The ways to make a baby have been expanded once again. While the ways to bring a baby into this world can be the source of much bioethical debate, it was generally accepted that two people would be part of the process. After a recent decision in the British House of Commons, this given has changed – three parent in vitro fertilization (IVF) has been approved.

The way three-parent IVF works (in a very simplified explanation) is the nucleus from an egg with defective mitochondria would be replaced by the nucleus of an egg with healthy mitochondria (see here).  This means that embryos developed from this process would have two mothers and a father. This process, referred to as “mitochondrial transfer” by supporters, has been banned in every country except the United Kingdom at this point based on the germline alteration that occurs during the process (see here). However, this process has been proposed for research approval in the United States, as well (see here).

This procedure of three-parent IVF raises a myriad of bioethical concerns. Rather than address all of the potential ethical concerns created by this technique in one blog post, today I’m going to focus on ethical concerns for the child created through this process.

First, although we live in a time when family seems to have a fluid definition, we do not have children with three biological parents. This raises the need for ethical consideration of the social situation we are creating for children through this process. How will parental rights be determined?

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.